the World Has Divided into Rich and Poor as at No Time in History by Maude Barlow, Democracy Now!, July 2, 2010
We’re Number 88! US Ranked Low on Global Peace Index by Common Dreams staff
Why War Isn’t Inevitable: A Science Writer Studies the Secret to Peaceful Societies by Brad Jacobson, Alternet.org, March 18, 2012
The World Grows More Complex by Linda S. Gottfredson, New York Times – Room for Debate – February 26, 2012 – Many of us feel stupider by the year, if not the week. Age and ill health take their toll, but Mother Nature isn’t the culprit. It’s those clever people busily complicating our lives, innovation by innovation, upgrade upon upgrade. They don’t lower our native intelligence, but relentlessly burden it.
Just ask a humorist. One “Frank and Ernest” comic strip shows a caveman pointing to an engraved stone tablet and saying: “Look! I just invented writing!” His companion says: “Thanks a lot! You just made everybody else in the world illiterate!” Scott Adams’s “Dilbert principle” explains how a few thousand amazingly smart deviants turned the other six billion people into ninnies by designing a civilization too complex for everyone else. Modern innovations make us feel dumber, because they add to the work our minds must do. Smart deviants scoff at the “mindless” simplicity of everyday tasks, but Adams was right. A 1993 literacy survey revealed the level of difficulty at which tasks stump American adults:
· 21 percent could perform most Level 1 tasks like locating one piece of information in a sports article, but they couldn’t complete tasks on the next tier.· 27 percent could do most Level 2 tasks like locating two pieces of information in a sports article, but were stymied by Level 3.· 32 percent could handle tasks like entering information given into an automobile maintenance record form, but failed at tasks more complicated.· 17 percent could do Level 4 tasks like using a bus schedule to determine the appropriate bus for a given set of conditions, but could not clear the next hurdles.· 3 percent could answer the most complex questions, like determining the total cost of carpet to cover a room (using a calculator).
More than missed buses is at stake. Health is one example: Modern lifestyles predispose us to chronic diseases like diabetes. New technologies help patients keep blood glucose within safe limits to avoid life-threatening complications but are too complex for many patients. Just substitute the words “nutrition label” for sports article; “daily blood glucose readings” for automobile maintenance; “insulin dose” for bus schedule; and, for calculating required carpet, “healthy meal plans with enough but not too many grams of carbohydrates at each meal and snack.”Linda S. Gottfredson, who studies the sociology of intelligence, is a professor in the School of Education at the University of Delaware.http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/02/26/are-people-getting-dumber